Revisiting the Future via STEM Week

A bank of 3D printers. Courtesy of the author.

A bank of 3D printers. Courtesy of the author.

I’m the Educator/Manager of Instruction for the GE Brilliant Career Lab, a resource for educators and students, providing curriculum, essential and technical skills development, career assessments, mentoring, exposure to college and career, and access to digital fabrication tools and knowledge. The program pilot started during the 2016-2017 school year In Boston Public Schools (BPS) with Tech Boston and English High Schools. Since then, the Brilliant Career Lab has exposed over 1,500 BPS students to future STEM careers, while supporting teachers in incorporating digital fabrication and career exploration activities in their classroom.

I am fortunate to be present for a lot of “firsts” such as a student witnessing a laser cutter burn their project into wood for the first time:

Students watching laser cutter burn their project pic. Courtesy of the author.

Students watching laser cutter burn their project pic. Courtesy of the author.

In collaboration with the Fab Foundation, Brilliant Career Play is an extension of the Boston Celtics and GE partnership that creates access for middle school students in a mobile lab environment to engage in hands-on, interactive educational experiences. Launched in November 2017, the Brilliant Career Play program visits districts throughout greater Boston and exposes middle school students to STEM careers inspired by design and sports. Coupled with the mentoring and online support from Brilliant Pathways (formerly CFES) and Everfi, students are exposed to STEM careers through a range of online and live experiences. 

Here, at Dearborn STEM Academy, a group of teachers gathered around a mobile cart gawking at their first glimpse of a 3D printer in motion:

Students and teachers watching 3d printer work. Courtesy of the author.

Students and teachers watching 3d printer work. Courtesy of the author.

A pair of Dearborn STEM Academy high schoolers proudly cheer their first generation of electricity with the Wind Turbine Challenge:

Wind Turbine Challenge. Courtesy of the author.

Wind Turbine Challenge. Courtesy of the author.

Dearborn STEM Academy is one school among several that we visited last year. Now that the school year is fully underway, we are still seeing new things as we take the GE Brilliant Career Lab into classrooms including at Dearborn, which is the first time we have seen the fully germinating fruits of our labors.

STEM Week Event. Courtesy of the author.

STEM Week Event. Courtesy of the author.

In the time between our leaving Dearborn STEM Academy last year and our return this fall, the school has moved to a new building housing their own makerspace. Serendipitously, we were able to christen this new facility in conjunction with STEM Week. On display were the gamut of GE Brilliant Career Lab lessons being viewed by a prestigious crowd of visitors that included the Governor of the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

STEM Event with the Governor. Courtesy of the author.

STEM Event with the Governor. Courtesy of the author.

In the end, the stars of the STEM Week event at Dearborn were not the adults but an inspiring set of students who founded their own 3d printing club. To the awe of all, the students demonstrated how, using the springboard of a four day GE Brilliant Career Lab experience, they had continued to push their knowledge of digital fabrication with the goal of realizing an exciting career. Their products were nothing short of amazing and, if I’m honest, better than I make myself.

3d printing club student product. Courtesy of the author.

3d printing club student product. Courtesy of the author.

But that’s the point isn’t it?  Providing a spark of inspiration that does not mimic our own, but surpasses it.